Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Sunday, December 5, 2010

Dear Mr. Wolff:

Recently I believe you wrote that a successful doubled contract does not produce a game unless game had been bid, the extra scores going above the line. Did I misread or misunderstand? It makes sense to me, but my club told me that you and I were wrong.

—  Game Boy, San Luis Obispo, Calif.


ANSWER: When you play a partscore that has been doubled and you make it, then the whole of the score for the contract goes below the line. Thus two hearts doubled scores as twice 60 or 120. Since that number exceeds 100, it registers the game bonus. The insult, bonus, and overtricks go above the line — as usual.


Two diamonds doubled scores as 80 — thus not game, but two diamonds redoubled is 160 and IS worth the game bonus.


Dear Mr. Wolff:

In rubber bridge, my partner opened with an artificial two-club bid, holding A Q-9-3-2, —, A-Q-10, A-J-10-9-5. I, in turn, held K-J-8-6-3, J-9-4, 8-3-2, 8-4. How should we have bid our cards to slam, or should we have played in game?

—  Chicken Little, Calgary, Alberta


ANSWER: The general rule is that a two-club opening on an unbalanced hand is forcing to game unless responder shows a double negative by bidding two diamonds at his first turn, then showing weakness at the second turn. With your partner’s hand, a one-spade opening is appropriate. After you jump to four spades, he might shoot out slam and, his way up, the contract is excellent.


Dear Mr. Wolff:

When defending against a suit contract, why lead the king from a suit headed by the ace and king? If your partner is void, he doesn’t know if you are leading from the A-K or the K-Q and doesn’t know whether or not to ruff. Wouldn’t leading the ace inform your partner you have it and leading the king inform him you don’t have it?

—  Who Got What? Atlanta, Ga.

  ANSWER: The problem you describe is a very rare one. More common is deciding how to signal with length, including the jack, facing a king lead. Leading the unsupported ace and having partner know you need an attitude signal, not a count signal, is rather more helpful and comes up more often. The situation of the void facing the king is rare enough that I’ve seen only two disasters resulting from this in my entire life … and it’s been a long life.


Dear Mr. Wolff:

How much of bridge is about knowing the precise percentages, and how much about table feel and table presence?

—  Mind Games, West Palm Beach, Fla.


ANSWER: I can’t say I have every percentage at my fingertips, or indeed that I want to, but I know enough that I won’t be off in estimating lines unless the two are so close that it really makes no difference. What I mean is that table presence outranks percentages all the time! And the top players know this — though they may be reluctant to admit it.


Dear Mr. Wolff:

I held K-Q-9-3, Q-5-4-3-2, A-2, A-10, and my partner opened three diamonds in first chair. How much would your decision to move on or pass be influenced by vulnerability and position, and how much by your choice of partner?

—  Tough Choices, Jackson, Miss.


ANSWER: I would pass a first-chair nonvulnerable pre-empt, but gamble out three no-trump facing either a vulnerable pre-empter or a second-in-hand call, unless I knew that my partner had an overdeveloped sense of humor when at favorable vulnerability. In second seat I like to be sound and I like my partners to be the same; I’m sometimes disappointed!


For details of Bobby Wolff’s autobiography, The Lone Wolff, contact If you would like to contact Bobby Wolff, please leave a comment at this blog. Reproduced with permission of United Feature Syndicate, Inc., Copyright 2010. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact